Chihiro Suzuki was crowned the new featherweight champion after knocking out the local favorite Vugar Karamov at Rizin Landmark 7 in Baku. The superior striking of the Japanese fighter made the difference as he stopped the Azerbaijani in his hometown.

Suzuki is on a magnificent run, having knocked out Patricio Freire at Super Rizin 2 in his last fight. He now has seven wins from his last eight fights, with the loss to Koike Kleber going down as a no contest because the Brazilian missed weight.

From the outset Suzuki started to close the distance. Keramov aimed a left high kick at his opponent then unleashed a combination of kicks, starting with a left low kick and followed by a right high kick.

He then swiftly connected with a powerful right cross, transitioning to a single-leg takedown that brought Suzuki to the canvas. The Japanese fighter looked to be in a bad spot but he somehow found a TKO finish from his back.

Extremely rare

An upkick from Suzuki hurt Karamov badly. He was still in top position but the Japanese fighter unloaded with punches from his back with the referee eventually spotting that the Azerbaijani was unconscious.

In an extremely rare and unusual turn of events the fight was stopped due to strikes from Suzuki while Karamov was in top position. The decision was clearly correct as the former champion remained on all fours while the Japanese fighter celebrated.

In a surprising turn of events, Suzuki’s right heel kick found its mark on Keramov’s face. This sent Keramov sprawling to the ground, vulnerable to Suzuki’s relentless flurry of short punches from below. The champion stopped moving, prompting the referee to intervene and stop the fight.

Suzuki extends his record to 12-3 and captures the Rizin featherweight title. Vugar Karamov falls to 19-5 and sees a four-fight winning streak snapped.

Next challenger

In his previous fight Suzuki had stopped Freire in one of the biggest upsets of the year. The win over Karamov wasn’t quite as shocking although it is fair to say the 24 year old has surpassed all expectations in 2023.

‘Pitbull’ was clearly watching the fight. He clearly wants to be the next challenger and afterwards he tweeted in Japanese demanding a rematch with Suzuki.

Freire seemed to be deliberately trying to injure his opponent’s sense of pride in a post that can be translated as,

“Congratulations to Chihiro Suzuki. You have proven yourself to be a true champion. For the fans in Japan, for the fans around the world, and for the martial arts that we love so much. Let’s all put our belts on the line. Let’s fight. You weren’t able to do that with the previous ‘champion’ but you’re a real man’s man, so you won’t refuse, right?”

Best of the rest

The evening wasn’t a total disaster for the local fighters. In the co-main event former Rizin Lightweight Grand Prix Champion Tofiq Musayev (22-5) stopped Kojo Takeda (15-6) with ground and pound midway through the third round.

Rizin Landmark 7, Baku, November 4th
Chihiro Suzuki def. Vugar Karamov (c) via KO (Kick and punches) at 1:28 of Round 1
Tofiq Musayev def. Koji Takeda via TKO (Punches) at 2:03 of Round 3
Ali Abdulkhalikov def. Nariman Abbasov via Decision (Unanimous)
Mehman Mamedov def. Ferit Göktepe via Decision (Unanimous)
Kyung Pyo Kim def. Tural Ragimov via TKO (punches) at 0:21 of Round 1
Anastasiya Svetkivska def. Farida Abdueva via Submission (Triangle armbar) at 4:20 of Round 1
Ilkhom Nazimov def. Jaures Dea via Decision (Unanimous)
Vladislav Rudnev def. Iliyar Askhanov via Decision (Unanimous)
Shota Betlemidze def. Quentin Domingos via TKO (Injury) in 5:00 of Round 1
Hasan Mezhiev def. Konstantin Merkulov via Submission (Tear-naked choke) at 2:32 of Round 1